Lawmakers Increase Emissions Waiver Pressure on EPA

By Published On: October 5, 2007

As the global warming debate heats up, attempts to force the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s hand and promote California’s law to curb greenhouse gas emissions from cars and light trucks are increasing. Last week, Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA) chastised the White House for allegedly approving a “behind the scenes lobbying effort to attack” California’s vehicle greenhouse gas emissions reduction measure by getting the Transportation Secretary to push Congressional members to oppose a possible waiver from the federal agency. In a September 24 letter, Waxman wrote that it was “not an appropriate use of taxpayer dollars [for administration officials] to organize a lobbying effort campaign to politicize this vital regulatory decision.” He said the politically-based actions violate the Clean Air Act and Anti-Lobbying law. At the end of last week, the National Conference of State Legislatures urged federal EPA chief Stephen Johnson to “expeditiously approve” California’s Clean Air Act waiver request, almost two years old. “Problems related to climate change demand aggressive and thoughtful actions, such as those proposed by California,” stated Beverly Grad, National Conference of State Legislators chair, in a September 27 letter. She noted how Johnson’s decisions would impact other states following the state’s lead, which include Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. “Our environmental partnership puts all of us in a position to pursue policies to protect public health and ensure a clean environment,” Gard added. A week earlier, nearly 90 members of Congress also demanded that Johnson grant California’s request to oversee tailpipe greenhouse gas emissions. Central to air quality debates, today and historically, are politicians’ parochial interests, but the Bush Administration has taken the fight to a new low, according to Carl Zichella, Sierra Club western states director. The federal administration, he said, continues to “give egregious subsidies to vastly wealth companies that don’t need them.”

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